Q&A: Steven Galloway shares his fave books and writing habits

We asked Steven Galloway 10 questions about his writing habits and favourite books.

We hope you’re reading along with the Cityline Book Club and enjoying our latest pick, The Confabulist by Steven Galloway. Our staff has been swept away by this magical and suspenseful story, and we can’t wait to talk about Harry Houdini and Martin Strauss.

To help our book club get some additional insight into Galloway as a writer, we asked him 10 questions about his writing habits and favourite books.

1. What was your favourite book as a child?

Owls in the Family, by Farley Mowatt.

2. What’s your current favourite book?

I just read All My Puny Sorrows, Miriam Toews’ new book, and it absolutely blew me away. I will probably read it a hundred times before I die, if I live long enough.

3. Was there a moment when you first knew you wanted to be a writer?

I took a creative writing class in university, mostly by mistake. The first day there I looked around the room and saw the other 11 people who all seemed to want to be writers, and for the first time it occurred to me that this was a thing a person could do. Ten seconds later it was what I too wanted.

4. What is your favourite music to write to?

Anything of John K. Samson’s, or the Mountain Goats, or classical music.

5. Name a writer whose style you admire and tell us why.

I admire the way Joseph Boyden is able to paint an evocative landscape and a sweeping story, and I admire the way Miriam Toews can use humour and grace to navigate difficult subject matter, and I admire the way Annabel Lyon writes in clean, precise language and tells forceful and powerful stories, and I admire everything about Guy Vanderhaeghe.

6. Where is your favourite place to write?

My office at UBC. In fact, these days it’s about the only place I write.

7. What time of day do you do your best writing?

I like to get it done in the morning, before the day steals my attentions.

8. What was your last great read?

Beside All My Puny Sorrows, I would have to say both Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda and Nancy Lee’s The Age. Two terrific books.

9. What is the last book you gave as a gift?

I just sent a copy of my own book to my former editor, to whom it’s dedicated. That felt pretty nice. I give books all the time, so it’s hard to remember which was the last one. I recently gave someone Michael Crummey’s Galore, a wonderful novel.

10. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I’m a university professor, a father, and a frequenter of the Vancouver Army and Navy #298. I also keep saltwater fish.

Are you enjoying The Confabulist so far? Share your thoughts in the comments – we can’t wait to discuss it with you. Stay tuned for our video interview with Steven Galloway, coming up right here in the Cityline Book Club next week!

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